Maps of War and Peace: Rethinking Geography in International Affairs

Luis Da Vinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In his memoirs of his final years as one of the United States’ most prominent foreign policy decision-makers, Henry Kissinger offers an anecdote involving President Nixon and the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. As part of the celebration of the UN’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Ramgoolam was invited to dine with Nixon at the White House on 24 October 1970. The gathering nearly created a diplomatic faux pas due in large part to the administration’s confusion regarding the geography of Africa. According to Kissinger, the national security staff mistook the country of Mauritius—U.S. ally and island nation located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar—for Mauritania, a north-western African nation that had broken diplomatic relations with the United States in 1967 as a result of U.S. support for Israel during the Six-Day War. As Kissinger recalls, this geographic misconception generated a bizarre exchange between both leaders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-89
Number of pages89
JournalThe Brown Journal of World Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Geography
  • International Affairs
  • Henry Kissinger
  • foreign policy


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